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Rights groups call on Indonesia to withdraw invite to Sudan’s Bashir

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March 24, 2015 (WASHINGTON) – The Indonesian government must either withdraw its invitation extended to Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir or arrest him once he sets foot in the country, a number of right groups said in a letter.

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Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir takes part in an African Union health summit in Abuja on 15 July 2013 (Photo: Getty Images)

The coalition known as Bashir Watch which is comprised of human rights organisations dedicated to accountability in Sudan, expressed its “grave concern” that Jakarta would allow Bashir to visit for the despite being wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.

Bashir was invited this month to participate in the Asia-Africa summit scheduled for next April which will host 109 leaders and commemorate the 60th anniversary of the 1955 Asia Africa Conference, as well as the 10th anniversary of the New Asian-African Strategic Partnership (NAASP). His attendance has not yet been confirmed.

“Even though Indonesia is not a state party to the Rome Statute, non-member states are still encouraged to bring international fugitives to justice. The situation in Darfur was referred to the International Criminal Court by the UN Security Council (UNSC) and the UNSC Resolution 1593 (2005) which urges all members of the United Nations to fully cooperate with the court. The 31st of March 2015 will mark 10 years since this referral. As a member of the United Nations, Indonesia is obligated to act and bring Bashir to justice,” the coalition’s letter reads in part.

“He [Bashir] has perpetrated the ongoing atrocities in Darfur where hundreds of thousands have died since 2003 and millions remain displaced. In 2014 alone, approximately half a million people have been newly displaced in Darfur, and projections for 2015 are even worse. The crimes in Darfur continue to rage, and violence has spread into other areas of Sudan, including South Kordofan and Blue Nile. Bashir has continuously blocked humanitarian aid from getting to those in need, and many people are at risk of starvation,” it adds.

The letter noted that Indonesia pledged to ratify the Rome Statute by 2008 in its National Human Rights Action Plan, and that when this goal was not reached, it was again included in the next Plan (2009-2014).

“Your Excellency, as the third largest democracy in the world and a central player in the South-east Asian region, it is imperative that Indonesia promotes justice and accountability at the regional and international levels. Indonesia must demonstrate its leadership in the region and responsibility to its people by ensuring that when genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes are committed, those responsible are brought to justice,” the letter states.

“If Bashir enters Indonesia, this coalition calls on the Indonesian authorities to arrest him and transfer him to the ICC so that he can face the charges against him,” it adds.

Bashir cancelled a planned appearance in South-east Asian nation of Malaysia in 2011 after controversy erupted there over his possible attendance.

A Malaysian official at the time said that if Bashir decided to fulfil the invitation it can be an “embarrassment” to Malaysia.

(ST)

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